Rockford IceHogs forward Vinnie Hinostroza and defenseman Erik Gustafsson were named to the rosters for the 2018 AHL All-Star Classic, the league announced Thursday. They’re two of 15 players on the Central roster for the two-day event, which will be held in Utica, NY, on Jan. 29.
The first thing to note here is that Hinostroza was recalled to the Blackhawks weeks ago, so it’s unlikely he’ll actually play in that game as of now. In that case, the league could simply replace him with another forward from the IceHogs’ roster such as Matthew Highmore or Tomas Jurco, or it might add a player from another team.
Hinostroza earned his promotion to the NHL and AHL All-Star honors by putting up 22 points in 23 games for Rockford. He led the team in scoring at the time, and now has 82 points in 109 career games at the AHL level.
Gustafsson likewise hasn’t played the whole season for Rockford, although his absence was the result of injury. He’s recorded 14 points in 22 games this season for the much-improved IceHogs. Carl Dahlstrom (18 points in 33 games) and Ville Pokka (16 points in 32 games) miss out on the honors.
This is nice to hear for both players, although it won’t mean much for their chances of making an impact in Chicago. Hinostroza is already there and scored a goal on Toews’ line Wednesday night.
Gustafsson’s road back to the NHL seems a bit tougher, and considering he turns 26 in March, it’ll be interesting to see if he still factors into the Hawks’ future going forward. The defenseman is a restricted free agent for the last time this year, and will be eligible for arbitration if he’s extended a qualifying offer. An AHL All-Star appearance doesn’t hurt.